Electronic waste piling up

The Dalton-Whitfield Solid Waste Authority's electronics recycling program was featured in a story by the Chattanooga Times Free Press on January 20, 2011. To read the whole story click here: Electronic Waste Piling Up

Whitfield County and Dalton, Ga., have collected e-scrap since the county collected 13.4 tons in its first drop-off event in February 2008, said Liz Swafford with the Dalton-Whitfield Solid Waste Authority.
In 2010, the waste authority collected 12.66 tons of e-scrap for recycling — equivalent to the weight of 10 compact cars, Swafford said.

Electronics recycling is available year round at the Old Dixie Hwy. Landfill and Convenience Center location only. Please see the on site attendant for assistance.

Curbside recycling on the rise in Dalton

By: Kelly Jackson, Chattanooga Times Free Press

DALTON, Ga. — By the year’s end, city residents will have recycled more than 1,000 tons of household waste.

It’s the most the city has collected in one year with its curbside recycling program, which started in 2003, said Harvey Levitt, operations manager for the Dalton-Whitfield Solid Waste Management Authority.

City Public Works Director Benny Dunn said the number is up this year because “we’ve just got more folks” recycling.

Awareness of the city’s curbside recycling program has grown since the city went from twice-weekly garbage pickup to just once a week in 2008. Officials advocated the city’s free weekly recycling service as a way to reduce trash.

But figures show there’s still room for improvement. Reece Carroll, operations manager with public works, said only about 35 percent of Dalton residents recycle.

Terry Ensley, information technology analyst and accounts manager for the solid waste authority, said the city’s trash totals for 2009 are more than 8,000 tons. More of that could be recycled with increased participation, he said.

But it’s not mandatory that residents recycle, Mr. Levitt said. “All we can do is try to educate and promote the program,” he said.

According to Mr. Dunn, curbside recycling costs about $175,000 a year, but the city is saving about $150,000 annually without the extra day of trash pickup.

The solid waste authority compares recycling totals with those of Rome, Ga., because the curbside program there serves a similar population. This year, Rome’s curbside recycling expects to bring in about 900 tons, Mr. Levitt said.

“We’re going to beat them this year,” he said.

Mr. Levitt said there are “so many reasons” why Dalton residents should recycle, such as saving landfill space and commodities such as trees used for paper and oil used for plastics.

Recycling also supports Georgia jobs, because 80 to 90 percent of residential recycled materials go to facilities in the state, he said.

Next year, the solid waste authority hopes to improve recycling numbers at its four convenience centers. Right now only about 5 percent of county residents using those facilities recycle, Mr. Levitt said.


* 650 tons: 2004

* 704 tons: 2005

* 628 tons: 2006

* 600 tons: 2007

* 893 tons: 2008

* 999 tons: 2009 (as of Tuesday)

Sources: Harvey Levitt and Liz Swafford of the Dalton-Whitfield Solid Waste Authority

Tree recycling is the green choice

By: Kelly Jackson, Chattanooga Times Free Press

DALTON, Ga. -- Recycling is the environmentally friendly way to bid farewell to the family Christmas tree, officials say.

"Bring One for the Chipper" is a statewide program sponsored by Keep Georgia Beautiful. Locations are designated throughout the state for people to recycle their Christmas trees, turning them into mulch.

Keep Dalton-Whitfield Beautiful and the Dalton-Whitfield Solid Waste Authority head up the program here.

"We are providing the service so that people can close the loop," said Liz Swafford, recycling and education program coordinator for the solid waste authority. 

The big event is Jan. 9 at Home Depot, where a chipper will be turning Christmas trees into mulch, she said. Residents dropping off Christmas trees will receive a free redbud, dogwood, or crape myrtle tree seedling or vegetable, herb or wildflower seeds, she said.

"There's a lot of free gifts for the public, plus they'll have the option of getting mulch if they want," she said.

Live Christmas trees are better for the environment than artificial ones because "Christmas trees are part of the sustainable farming industry," Ms. Swafford said.

Recycling the tree completes the Christmas tree's life cycle, she said.

Denise Wood, member of Keep Dalton-Whitfield Beautiful, said the goal of the recycling program is to find "a beneficial use for the trees."

Recycled trees are mulched or may be used for other purposes. Some are kept whole so they can be placed in local lakes and ponds to improve fish habitat, said Ms. Wood.

Others may be used for erosion control, said Ms. Swafford.

Ms. Wood said its important to recycle Christmas trees because it "saves valuable landfill space."

Ms. Swafford said "just dumping it somewhere creates an imbalance in that little part of the ecosystem."

State regulations also prohibit the disposal of yard trimmings in municipal landfills, according to a news release.

Ms. Swafford said the annual "Bring One for the Chipper" event is more than 10 years old. Each year, an average of 700 trees are recycled in the area, she said.

Since the statewide program started in 1991, more than 4.8 million Christmas trees have been recycled, according to the Keep Georgia Beautiful Web site.

Local residents have the option of dropping off their trees at one of the county convenience centers, where yard debris is recycled into mulch throughout the year. City residents also can call for pick-up.

Tom Sawyer's Christmas Tree Farm in Glenville, N.C., sold trees this year in Chattanooga and Dalton. Mr. Sawyer said any leftover trees they have are turned into mulch because "it goes right back into Mother Nature."


* What: Bring One for the Chipper

* When: 9 a.m.-4 p.m. Jan. 9

* Where: Home Depot on Shugart Road

* What: Bring your live, undecorated Christmas tree to be recycled

* Cost: Free


* The Dalton Public Works Department will collect trees from at the curbside. Residents should call 706-278-7077 for pick-up.

* All Whitfield County Convenience Centers (MLK, McGaughey Chapel and Westside) and the Old Dixie Highway Landfill have drop-off locations that accept and recycle yard debris throughout the year.

Source: Dalton-Whitfield Solid Waste Authority


* Visit www.keepgeorgiabeautiful.org to find a tree recycling location near you.


Whitfield restoring creeks, wetlands

By Kelly Jackson
Chattanooga Times Dalton Bureau

DALTON, Ga. -- On property off Tilton Road in southern Whitfield County, an intermittent stream meanders through a field bordering the Conasauga River.

"You can imagine (that) literally this was just a big muddy pond; the cows would walk in and out of it to drink," said Norman Barashick, executive director of the Dalton-Whitfield Solid Waste Management Authority.

That was before the authority's restoration efforts as part of its mitigation bank program. The drainage area that once was a cow pond is now a flowing stream. Around the stream are native plants and trees that will one day keep secret its very existence.

"The overall goal of this project is natural growth," said Dirk Verhoeff, environmental manager with the authority. "We're supposed to help it along, but in time it's going to take care of itself."

The authority owns and operates the Conasauga River Mitigation Bank, established in June 2005. Through the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers mitigation bank program, independent agencies can preserve and restore streams and wetlands in exchange for credits. Those credits can be sold to developers whose projects will impact streams and/or wetlands.

Mr. Verhoeff said that to qualify for the mitigation bank, a project must include at least 50 percent restoration.

Alan Miller, a section permits chief with the Corps of Engineers' Savannah District, said developers whose projects affect wetlands can mitigate the impacts on or off-site, buy credits from a land bank to offset the impacts or pay an in-lieu fee to the Georgia Land Trust to buy aquatic resources.

Mr. Miller said the mitigation bank program, which was created about 15 years ago, is "very robust" in Georgia. There are about 60 active banks across the state.

Mr. Barashick said the Corps of Engineers determines how many credits a mitigation bank has and how many credits a developer will need to offset an impact.

The officials said the total number of credits for any given bank is a proprietary secret and the value can't be assessed because it fluctuates.

County Commission Chairman Mike Babb, who is also an authority board member, said local governments benefit from having credits available. He said the city and county have purchased credits for development.

Commissioner Mike Cowan said the local mitigation bank is "win-win."

"You have to make the improvements to the environment to be qualified to receive the credit, so just the fact that you're improving the environment is a positive," he said.



  • Green sunfish
  • Bluegill
  • Warmouth
  • Red shiner
  • Golden shiner
  • Bullhead minnow
  • Creek chub
  • Eastern mosquitofish


  • 3 tracts of property, about 120 acres
  • 200-foot riparian corridor preserved or restored along about 2 miles of the Conasauga River
  • 150-foot riparian corridor preserved or restored along both sides of about 2 miles of existing and constructed waterways
  • 3,700 linear feet of stream restoration
  • To date the authority has sold about 20 percent of potential credits for about $1 million.
  • The bank's primary service area consists of four watersheds within the Coosa River Basin. This includes portions of Bartow, Chattooga, Cherokee, Dade, Fannin, Floyd, Gilmer, Gordon, Murray, Pickens, Polk, Walker and Whitfield counties.

Sources: Dirk Verhoeff, Norman Barashick


Learn more about the mitigation bank program at www.sas.usace.army.mil.


Paper recycling in place at every school

  Staff Photo by Tim Barber:    Michael Foxx, right, Recycling Center operations manager at the Dalton-Whitfield Regional Solid Waste Management Authority, punctures a plastic bottle as Matthew Ryerson, 3, and North Whitfield Middle School teacher Jill Ryerson listen for air to be released at recent open house.

 Staff Photo by Tim Barber:

Michael Foxx, right, Recycling Center operations manager at the Dalton-Whitfield Regional Solid Waste Management Authority, punctures a plastic bottle as Matthew Ryerson, 3, and North Whitfield Middle School teacher Jill Ryerson listen for air to be released at recent open house.

By Kelly Jackson
Chattanooga Times Dalton Bureau

DALTON, Ga. -- Recyclin' Ben is becoming more popular in Whitfield County, Dalton and area private schools.

Last November, the improved mascot showed up on the side of a new recycling truck bought by Dalton-Whitfield Regional Solid Waste Management Authority. This year, the authority started picking up mixed-paper recycling at every school in the county, so Ben's getting out and about more than ever.

"We were able to set it up to be a rolling billboard," said Norman Barashick, executive director of the authority.

On Thursday, the authority held an open house to introduce parents, teachers and students to its "Target Recycling" program and other educational programs available for students, including tours at the facility.

Residents who attended the open house had the opportunity to tour the authority's Materials Recovery Facility, nicknamed the "Murf." Mr. Baraschick said the 40,000-square-foot recycling operation opened in 2001.

"Our programs have continued to expand," he said.

Cassie Gallman, a fifth-grade student at New Hope Elementary School, attended the open house and said she's happy to have recycling in her school "because it helps the ecosystem."

Shayla Byrd, a third grader at New Hope, said she was impressed to see all the different materials made from recyclables at the center. She was especially impressed by the bathroom tile made out of recycled toilet seats.

Harvey Levitt, operations manager for the authority, said the agnecy already was picking up recycling at about 25 percent of schools, but county-wide school recycling is "a new program."

"We are in 30 some-odd schools and the 30 schools accommodate 20,000 students," he said.

The authority has implemented a competition and will award schools that have the most recycling per student. A top recycling school will be recognized three times throughout the year, he said, while the top three recycling schools will be recognized on an annual basis.

The authority has worked to have recycling in schools throughout the county for a number of years, he said, but only recently had the $400,000 needed to purchase the new truck and more than 200 containers for all the schools.

To pay for the truck, the authority used a U.S. Army Corps of Engineers program in which developers buy credits to offset any negative environmental impact from their developments.

Money from those credits paid for the recycling truck, Mr. Barashick said.